Beales invests in home and kids to boost sales

Department store group Beales is to launch its own home furnishings range in an effort to boost its sagging sales performance.

The retailer also plans to open Internet cafes and launch its first childrenswear concessions across its 12 stores.

Beales reported a drop in turnover to£36.2 million for six months ended May 1, down from£38.4 million for the same period last year. Profit before tax fell to£1.3 million from£2.2 million.

Chief executive Allan Allkins said he expected the initiatives to help improve the top line in the next financial year, but he did not expect to see a significant improvement in the 'macro-economic situation' in the near future.

He said: 'I am ever optimistic, but with price deflation and increasing interest rates, I think the difficulties we and others in the provincial high street are experiencing will continue. We are moving into own labels to improve margins. Small groups like us don't have huge buying margins, so we have to try and be a bit more clever.'

Beales hopes to follow the lead set by competitors, such as Debenhams, by launching an own-label homewares department under new buying director for homes Susie Bailey. She joins the business on July 6 and was formerly a buying director at House of Fraser. Beales' first own-label womenswear range, b, was launched earlier this year. Allkins said it has 'proved to be successful'.

The retailer will launch a childrenswear concession and open the first Internet cafe at its Bournemouth store this autumn.